Veterinary Oncologic Surgery


Surgery is an integral part of the treatment of many types of cancer in people and in pets.  In fact, surgery oftentimes is the only treatment modality that has the capability of physically removing all cancer cells.  Therefore, our initial approach to the majority of cancers seen in veterinary patients is to determine whether or not there is a surgical solution to the problem.  Through consultation with the medical oncology department and/or the surgical oncology department, a decision is made regarding the use of surgical intervention as part, or all of the patient's therapy.  Following a thorough physical examination and review of all pertinent medical record information, further evaluation often includes radiographs, ultrasound, and CT scanning.  Providing a thorough evaluation of the whole patient helps to insure that a choice to proceed with surgery is the most appropriate path to follow.  Working closely with the medical oncology and radiation oncology services also helps to insure that the most comprehensive cancer care is available for your pet.  

surgical procedures performed at acic

A wide variety of oncologic surgeries are performed at ACIC including major thoracic surgery, limb amputations, oral surgeries (mandibulectomy, matxillectomy, etc.), reconstructive surgery, gastrointestinal tumor resection including major hepatic tumor resection.  

We are proud of the excellent surgical care provided to our patients.  Excellent surgical care is not just limited to the procedure performed in the operating room, but the thorough medical management of pre- and post-surgical patients to insure a more pain-free and safe recovery.

Anesthesia and Analgesia (Pain Control):

We use only the safest and most up to date anesthesia protocols and patient monitoring equipment.  Anesthesia protocols are developed with the patient's specific medical needs and type of procedure in mind.  Our licensed veterinary technicians are very experienced and educated in anesthesia for oncologic surgery and all anesthesia protocols are directly supervised by the surgeon. 

Pain management protocols are tailor made to suit each individual patient. Protocols may include pre-emptive analgesia to control pain before surgery begins, local anesthesia, longer term pain patches, epidural anesthesia including epidural catheters for continuous pain control and CRI (constant rate infusion) of intravenous pain medication.  Patients are monitored very carefully during administration of pain management protocols and the surgeon and technicians work closely with you and your pet to maintain good pain control once patients are discharged from the hospital.  Pain management is a priority at our hospital.

Perioperative care:


While your pet is in ACIC for surgery, there are many services that we provide to ensure the best possible care for your pet. Some pets may benefit from starting preoperative medications when they are admitted into the hospital.  This is especially important if they have preexisting medical conditions such as a heart or kidney disease, and it can also be helpful in patients that are anxious due to stress or pain.  In addition, beginning preoperative intravenous fluids can be beneficial in older patients and those who may be dehydrated due to disease.

During surgery, patients are monitored using advanced monitoring equipment that includes: EKG, blood pressure, temperature, pulse, respiratory rate, and capnography, which monitors carbon dioxide produced during breathing.  We also use a ventilator during surgery to ensure optimal breathing while your pet is under anesthesia. A warm air blanket may be used to keep your pet warm during and after surgery, preventing complications caused by hypothermia.     
The ACIC surgical team strives to provide your pet with the best care while they are in our hospital.

24 hour postoperative nursing care:

Postoperative patients are managed under the surgeons direction by licensed veterinary technicians (LVT's) who provides the intensive care necessary for all of our postoperative patients. The postoperative period is a critical time in facilitating the patient’s recovery. The surgical team is committed to advanced quality pain control both during and after your pet’s surgery. The ACIC also has an in-house blood bank for any patient that may require a blood or plasma transfusion while in the hospital. We strive to provide high quality health care with an exceptional bedside manner.

Follow-up evaluations and continued cancer treatment at ACIC. Follow-up after surgical resection of the patients cancer:

All of our surgical cancer patients are carefully and routinely followed after they are discharged from the hospital either solely at ACIC or with the assistance of the referring veterinarian.  Re-examinations are scheduled as needed depending on the type of cancer the patient had, the surgical procedure performed, whether the patient has a bandage that needs to be changed and what adjunctive treatment is planned in addition to surgery to treat the cancer.

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Members of the surgical team are always available to answer any questions or concerns that the owner may have about their pet.  Owners are, however, routinely contacted 2–3 days after the pet had surgery to make sure that there are no immediate concerns.

Owners are also contacted as soon as possible with the biopsy results.  At that time Dr. Warzee will discuss in detail the diagnosis, prognosis and what follow-up therapy, if any, is indicated.

Support of the other oncologic specialty services within ACIC.

ACIC offers the most comprehensive cancer care available.  The surgical service is supported by our radiation oncology and medical oncology services.  We all work together as a team to provide any post-operative treatment deemed necessary for the best outcome for your pet.  

Poet, the Golden Retriever on the right, is enjoying romping in the snow after undergoing surgery and radiation therapy for a soft tissue sarcoma. 

Poet, the Golden Retriever on the right, is enjoying romping in the snow after undergoing surgery and radiation therapy for a soft tissue sarcoma. 

For example, radiation therapy is used post-operatively to treat localized cancer when the surgery alone cannot remove all of the cancer at the microscopic level.  Chemotherapy may be recommended in conjunction with surgical removal of the cancer when there is a known high risk of the cancer spreading to other parts of the body even after the primary tumor has been surgical removed.  If needed, chemotherapy is generally started as soon as possible after the surgery, often while the patient is recovering in the hospital, if the diagnosis is already known.  Oftentimes, we need to wait until the final pathology report is available before knowing if chemotherapy will be needed or not.

The goal of the Surgery Department at the Animal Cancer and Imaging Center is to provide the highest quality of care available for surgical patients.  We strive to give every patient comprehensive anesthetic, surgical, and postoperative care and to do so in an atmosphere of excellence and compassion.  As part of ACIC, the primary focus of our surgical department is surgical oncology. Peri-operative pain management is a critical focus for the surgical team at ACIC to insure that your pet has the best possible experience while undergoing and recovering from major oncologic surgical procedures.